Diego Maradona's links with Mexico: From World Cup to Sinaloa Dorados

EDITOR'S NOTE: This was originally published in Spanish and translated from ESPN Mexico. Find the original here.

Diego Maradona is headed to Mexico to become manager of second-tier club Sinaloa Dorados. Despite that surprise appointment, the man considered by many to be the best footballer ever has a long history linking him with the country.

However, as you might expect when it comes to Maradona, it is a relationship that has had its ups and downs.

Lifted the World Cup and raised the Hand of God at the Azteca

"El Diego," at the peak of his powers and the best player in the world, was the absolute standout of the 1986 World Cup, which Argentina won in the legendary Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

At the same venue, Maradona scored two of the most unforgettable goals of the tournament: the notorious 'The Hand of God' and the sublime 'The Goal of the Century,' both of them in the quarterfinal win against England.

As coach, his Argentina beat Mexico at a World Cup

Maradona, as Argentina manager, defeated El Tri to eliminate Javier Aguirre's side from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Two goals from Carlos Tevez and another from Gonzalo Higuaín sealed a 3-1 victory in the round-of-16 clash in Johannesburg. Javier "Chicharito" Hernández scored for El Tri.

Criticised Mexico as hosts the 2026 World Cup

During Russia 2018, Maradona harshly criticised FIFA's decision to elect Mexico, the United States and Canada as joint hosts of the 2026 World Cup. Maradona said the countries did not deserve it. His comments particularly caused uproar in Mexico, as Maradona highlighted El Tri played a bland style of football and cannot progress past the round of 16. A few days later, he rowed back on his criticism of the team, saying they had "made this first round great."

Praised Guillermo Ochoa's World Cup performance

Maradona claimed that "Memo" Ochoa, the Mexico goalkeeper, was among the three best in the world, after seeing his performances in Russia. Maradona said he had followed the Standard Liege player's career ever since his days in Club América.

Played in Carlos Hermosillo's farewell match

Maradona was one of the international stars joining former Mexico striker Carlos Hermosillo for his farewell testimonial match in March 2002. He played for 20 minutes and won a penalty in a 5-5 draw at the Estadio Azul.

Supported Luis Hernandez's move to Boca Juniors

Maradona not only recommended that Luis Hernandez was brought in on loan by Boca Juniors from Necaxa in 1997, he also defended "El Matador" when he faced criticism, However, it wasn't enough to stop that Mexico striker spending most of his time on the bench.

Brought Showbol to Mexico City

Four years after playing in the Hermosillo testimonial, Maradona returned to Mexico in 2006 with a group of Argentina stars and had his indoor football spectacle Showbol at Mexico City's Palacio de los Deportes and in Monterrey, and was joined by several Mexican stars.

A huge admirer of "El Chavo"

In his "La Noche del 10" TV show, broadcast on Argentinean TV, Maradona confirmed he is a huge fan of late Mexican actor Roberto Gomez Bolanos, AKA "Chespirito," and his legendary character El Chavo. In 2005, the Argentina idol said to Gomez Bolanos: "You're my biggest idol. Watching 'El Chavo' makes me love life even more."

A duet with Marco Antonio Solis

Ten years ago, Maradona declared himself a fan of famous Mexican singer-songwriter Marco Antonio Solis and shared the stage with him at Luna Park in Buenos Aires to sing "Si no te hubieras ido" ("If you hadn't left"), surprising those present at the legendary venue.

The places he'll get to know

Maradona's first tour stop as Dorados coach will be in Oaxaca to play against Alebrijes on Sept. 22. The next place in Maradona's schedule is the famous "Coruco" Diaz pitch in Zacatepec, Morelos, on Oct. 6, and there will then be a trip to Zacatecas to face Mineros on Oct. 20.

The last visit for the 1986 World Cup-winner will be in Merida, for the next-to-last match of the regular phase for Dorados.

On his new own turf, the former Barcelona and Napoli star will host Cafetaleros in his first match in charge on Sept. 15. After Cafetaleros, El Diego will face Leones Negros (Sept. 29), Tampico Madero (Oct. 27) and Atletico San Luis (Nov. 10).

Dorados also managed to qualify for Liga MX's direct knockout phase and their opponents could be Queretaro's Gallos Blancos, although that will notbe confirmed until next week.

This means that the Sinaloa side have tough schedule ahead of them and Maradona must win as early as possible if he wants to be involved in the upcoming Liguilla.